Summer Reading Challenge Introduction

What is the Exodus Summer Reading Challenge?

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
—Groucho Marx

Every year, half a bajillion local libraries offer incentive-based programs designed to get kids reading during the summer. While the aim is a good one, we (and others) are often frustrated with the quality of literature available. Our goal is to help raise the bar.

As a result, we are happy to offer our summer reading challenge. Every year students are asked to read at least five books from our own recommended reading list. Full of genuine classics and family favorites, it doesn't promote a liberal agenda, cater to the lowest common denominator, or present books designed to make anyone look smart. It's a list meant simply to open the wide doors of reading to kids turned off by more standard fare, to help kindle a love of reading.

From the feedback we've received the last three years and doing further reading of our own, we've continued to update and expand Outside of a Dog. We have created website lists for each grade, added ratings and cautions to many of the books, adjusted a few grade level suggestions (primarily in the 7th and 8th grades), removed a few books and added others, continuing to make the list more unique and a little less curriculum-based. You can view the updated website lists here.

The Challenge

To reach the minimum goal, all students must read five books from our booklist.

To reach the prize drawing goal:

Students grades 1-2 must read 35 books
Students grades 3-6 must read 25 books
Students grades 7-12 must read 5000 pages 

To reach the genre challenge goal:

Students must reach the status of Legendary Adventurer or Genre Legend

These books don't have to be from the Outside of a Dog list but in order to enter them into the book log they need to be on our website

Who Can Do It? Any student grades 1-12 who can read. Preschool and kindergarten readers may also sign up, but they will be enrolled as first graders. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE LOCAL. You can download the free 2014 booklist via pdf or view the updated website lists, and your book logs can be completed online.

Cost: $5 per participant. Since we believe our list is a bit on the challenging side, we suggest signing your child up for the grade they just finished, not the one they are entering—but you are free to make that decision. While we appreciate the support if you choose to purchase literature from us (it helps, truly!), you are under no obligation to buy a single book from us. As an extra incentive, we will email a coupon code to registrants early in July. Students must enroll by August 15th, and no refunds for the program will be given after that date. Access to the updated lists on the website and downloading the 2014 PDF book list is free.

Ready to sign up? Click here.

  • Don't start reading until June 1st!
    No fair getting a head start!
  • Read at least five books from Outside of a Dog (grade level or above).
    Each participant who does that will receive one $5 gift certificate to Exodus.
  • Keep reading, and you'll have more chances to win.
    Every participant who reaches the book or page number challenge for their grade level will be entered into the grand prize drawing for their grade level. Each additional book read means additional entries into the drawing.
  • Additional books must be from our website and be grade appropriate.
    Your student's digital book log will verify that the book is on the site and appropriate for their grade level. If you read a book that does not register and think we should list it, please let us know by July 31 so we can decide whether to include it.
  • Kids must READ the books themselves.
    We love audio books and read-alouds -- they allow kids who find reading challenging to still enjoy great literature. However, the purpose of this challenge is to reward readers for actually reading, even if it is only five books. If you have a special circumstance and you want us to to make an exception, give us a call.
  • High school students must read two non-fiction titles from the Outside of a Dog list.
    The other three are up to them.
  • The books must be UNABRIDGED.
    With a select few exceptions; this will exclude most adaptations as well.
  • Record your reading!
    Each registrant will receive access to a digital book log. Please record the titles you read and rate the books there. Everything posted from June 1st to August 31 will count towards final numbers. Make sure to include ratings for the books! If your student wants to fill out a physical chart they can use this PDF. However, they must enter all books read into the online book log in order to claim the prize. If you can't access the book log, give us a call at 503.655.1951 during business hours or email us at by August 30th.
  • Parents: PLEASE confirm your students actually read the books!

Everyone who reads five books from our booklist at their grade level or above will receive a $5 gift certificate to Exodus. PLUS...

  • Students grades 1-2 who read 35 books will be entered into a prize drawing for a $25 gift certificate. Every additional book read is an additional entry into the drawing. One $25 gift certificate will be awarded per grade.
  • Students grades 3-6 who read 25 books will be entered into a prize drawing for a $25 gift certificate. Every additional book read is an additional entry into the drawing. One $35 gift certificate will be awarded per grade.
  • Students grades 7-12 who read 5000 pages will be entered into a prize drawing for a $50 gift certificate. Every additional 500 pages read is an additional entry into the drawing. One $50 gift certificate will be awarded for high school.

Students who review a book they've read on the Exodus website will be entered into our weekly random drawing for a $5 Exodus gift certificate. Students or parents of students who post the review on Facebook or Instagram using our hashtag #exodusreviews will receive one additional entry per social media account. 

Students who complete the hardest level of our genre challenge will be able to win other prizes.

Important!! Prizes will be awarded via emailed gift certificates on the second Friday of September (or as close to that as possible). They cannot be awarded before.

If you would like to contribute money to help us print an updated physical copy of our reading list, or to sponsor or donate prizes, please give us a call at 503.655.1951 or email us at Sponsors will receive advertising in the reading program emails, if desired. For more information, take a look at our sponsor page.

Our sponsors:

More Info:

Questions or comments? Call 503.655.1951 or email